This past weekend Josh and I drove out to my parent’s house in East Texas for Easter lunch. They live on a ‘hobby farm’ of sorts including a herd of goats, and as always when Spring babies arrive I immediately tromp out to the pasture to cuddle them!
Standing among the herd on Sunday, I took particular notice of Holman, my mom’s lone goose. Once upon a time he was part of a goose-trio, including Hazel and Honkers. I still remember the day mom brought them home, tiny critters chattering in a cardboard box. They grew up to be absolutely inseparable, a constant, waddling goose-clump. Poor Hazel, the only lady of the bunch, eventually got sick and died. Honkers also met an unfortunate, unmentionable fate. (It included my dad and a shotgun…but I know that image will shock and dismay some of you so I won’t go into detail.) So that left Holman, the lone goose.
And what does a goose do when his only mates are long gone? Well, he’s forced to choose a new companion, and in this case, a sexy-new-goat-companion. Intro Stinker.
Since the day his goose-mates went on to goose-heaven, Holman adopted Stinker goat. He picked her from the pack and has never since left her side. He follows her every step, keeping her company, protecting her by honking ridiculously if anyone (or even other goats or chickens, for that matter) gets within a few feet of her. She, apparently, is his. It cracks me up pulling into the driveway and seeing the goat herd off in the distance…along with one random goose.
Funny thing is, Stinker-the-goat doesn’t seem to mind at all. She just puts up with him, unfazed by his constant presence, his protective hissing and honking. On the other hand, she doesn’t exactly seem thrilled by it either. As I stood amused watching them this weekend, Stinker just seemed tired. She climbed to the top of a big dirt pile and just lay down, probably trying to escape the blasted goose. But there he was, slowed but not deterred by her ‘king of the mountain’ antics, struggling to waddle his big goose behind up the dirt mound. I imagine if you looked up the definition of sigh in the dictionary, it would be a picture of Stinker chewing her cud, with this random goose in the background. It really makes you wonder, does he realize she’s a goat? Or maybe he thinks he’s a goat now?
I’m sure you’re wondering why any of this is relevant.
It absolutely makes the point that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. I was so comforted witnessing their ‘love affair like no other.’ Their goose and goat romance reminded me of all the women we encounter on a weekly basis who confess in tears that they struggle with self-image and the toll it’s taking on their marriage relationship. Sometimes it’s baby weight that won’t budge 2 years after the fact, sometimes a crippling disability, often an altered view of themselves thanks to our media-crazed culture depicting beauty as large, perky breasts and a size-2 waistline. Sometimes they’ve wrestled with pornography, molestation, or domestic abuse. Sometimes it’s the undying echo of juvenile voices that told them they weren’t pretty, or simply daddies who never told them they were. For whatever reason, they do not celebrate who and what they are, instead the mourn who and what they aren’t. They don’t see themselves the way their husbands do, much less through the eyes of a loving God. They are blinded.
Holman the goose? He’s blinded all right, but in precisely the opposite way. I don’t know if he realizes or not that Stinker isn’t exactly his type, but it’s obvious that doesn’t matter. In fact, even if we brought him a sexy new-lady goose, I’m not sure he’d take to her. Geese have an undying loyalty. They mate for life. It’s called ‘pair bonding.’ He’ll never leave Stinker or trade her in for someone ‘prettier,’ because it isn’t about what she looks like, it’s who she is: his companion.
As we packed up the car to leave on Sunday I stole one last glance out at the pasture. Silly as it sounds, I thought I wish I could be more like that ridiculous goose, totally blinded to all my so-called flaws and insecuritiesand those of everyone around me. I want to sincerely celebrate each and every woman in my life, no matter what she does or doesn’t look like. It isn’t about what she looks like, it’s who she is: my friend, my companion, my sister, my confidant, my family, myself. And then I prayed, no joke, Lord-help me be more like Holman-the-goose.
And then I laughed out loud, half-amused at my silly notion, half completely serious.